Significant increases in suicide occurred among Native American, Black and Hispanic people, with a startling rise among young Black people. Meanwhile, the rate of suicide among older people declined between 2018 and 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported.
In 2021, 48,183 people died by suicide in the United States, which equates to a suicide rate of 14.1 per 100,000 people. That level equals the 2018 suicide rate, which had seen a peak that was followed by declines associated with the pandemic.
Experts said rebounding suicide rates are common following times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Suicide declines have also occurred during times of war and natural disaster, when psychological resilience tends to increase and people work together to overcome shared adversity.
“That will wane, and then you will see rebounding in suicide rates. That is, in fact, what we feared would happen. And it has happened, at least in 2021,” Christine Moutier, MD, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, told the New York Times.
The new CDC report found that the largest increase was among Black people aged 10-24 years, who experienced a 36.6% increase in suicide rate between 2018 and 2021. While Black people experience mental illness at the same rates as that of the general population, historically they have disproportionately limited access to mental health care, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
CDC report authors noted that some of the biggest increases in suicide rates occurred among groups most affected by the pandemic.
From 2018 to 2021, the suicide rate for people aged 25-44 increased among Native Americans by 33.7% and among Black people by 22.9%. Suicide increased among multiracial people by 20.6% and among Hispanic or Latinx people by 19.4%. Among White people of all ages, the suicide rate declined or remained steady.
“As the nation continues to respond to the short- and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, remaining vigilant in prevention efforts is critical, especially among disproportionately affected populations where longer-term impacts might compound preexisting inequities in suicide risk,” the CDC researchers wrote.
A version of this article first appeared on WebMD.com.